Most of the time when dumbed-down music is marketed towards babies, I find it pretty condescending to babies, who will one day grow into adults and will, at some point, have to overcome having had the disadvantage of being played baby music, as opposed to normal music like everyone else. This world is fucked enough as it is—why start out your babies at a disadvantage in the arts? The one exception, occasionally, is Kidz Bop, but mostly just because I think Kidz Bopped “Coco” is hilarious (and wrong).
Now that you all know my important stance on baby music, I’m going to make the argument that this album of Rihanna songs converted to lullabies for babies is straight flames, whether one is a baby or an adult. It is the least ageist baby music I have ever heard, and not just because Rihanna makes great music; the conceit of “lullaby renditions of Rihanna” is initially stupid until you hear the way they’ve been played, with ill and subtle layering of sounds, and sound effects, that call to mind the minimal sonic aesthetics of German microhouse. (If each track were remixed at 127 beats per minute with a tiny programmed kick drum that sounded like a ping pong match, it would be German microhouse.)
The basic translation between Rihanna and babies makes sense because 1. Rihanna makes extraordinarily catchy songs and 2. Rihanna is pretty fantastic with babies. (She’s proven as much through copious Instagrams of her niece, Majesty.) Still, at first it seemed like it would be difficult to tone down songs like “Pour It Up,” in which she sings about “strip clubs and dollar bills,” or “Rude Boy,” which is essentially a song about a man’s giant dick and what she would like him to do with it. On the other hand, I suppose the one good thing about babies is that they don’t yet have the capacity to critically analyze purple metaphors, and besides all these lullabies are instrumental. (But do they have to be? This is my other fundamental problem with music marketed towards babies: if they’re babies, how are they even going to know if Rihanna’s singing about a dick or not, because they can’t, like, talk. Why pander to your baby by censoring the music your baby hears? Isn’t that just a Puritanical impulse to appease the parents or, if not the parents, the people around the parents? People are so uptight about language!)
ANYWAY, back to the point that this calming album is enjoyable as an adult; I particularly enjoy “Stay,” which, like most of these songs, is translated with a xylophone and amplified with lovely and interesting sound effects, such as wood blocks, triangles and harp. I didn’t find myself missing the Calvin Harris confetti explosions of “We Found Love” because, for one, they start that shit with a kazoo, but also the way the bass part interplays with the melody—on what sounds like a marimba—is immensely satisfying, a heart-full sound.
Additionally, listening to these songs has made me think a little deeper about the originals, like for instance the fact that many Rihanna songs are in a minor key, and that “SOS” is still probably her worst hit but sounds fairly cute when peppered with trills of triangle. This is great, but what we really need now is some Soundcloud producer to give us dance remixes of lullaby renditions of Rihanna. Takers, please direct your tracks to me care of the email below, so that I may listen to them in my office, where I work, as an adult. Thank you.
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